Crime, Fire + Courts

Search continues for Davis couple’s killer

By From page A1 | April 17, 2013

Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife of 15 years, Claudia Maupin, 76, pose for a formal portrait. As many as 50 law enforcement officers from local, county, state and federal agencies are offering help to the Davis Police Department as it investigates the couple's brutal slayings. Courtesy photo

As the families of a slain South Davis couple made plans Tuesday to lay their loved ones to rest, Davis police ramped up the search for their killer.

Yolo County coroner’s officials revealed that Oliver “Chip” Northup Jr., 87, and his wife of 15 years, 76-year-old Claudia Maupin, died of multiple stab wounds in their 4006 Cowell Blvd. condominium.

Police said they’ll leave no stone unturned in their quest to find the person — or people — responsible for the horrific crime, the violent nature of which has left the couple’s many friends and relatives reeling in disbelief.

“At this point, nothing’s off the table. We’re exploring all theories,” Lt. Paul Doroshov said of the ongoing investigation, which at last count involved as many as 50 sworn personnel from local, county, state and federal agencies offering assistance — particularly in the areas of forensics as well as behavioral and psychological analysis, an investigative technique also known as suspect profiling.

“We want to make sure our procedures cover all the bases as best we can for a small department,” added Landy Black, Davis’ police chief. “We have no shortage of leads, and we haven’t found that any of the potential leads are unachievable.”

Services for Northup and Maupin, a prominent local attorney and retired phone-company technician who had been married since 1998, were still in the process of being finalized Tuesday. The pair were longtime members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, of which Northup was a founding member, and it is where they first met.

Those who knew the couple have said they’re mystified that anyone would want to cause them harm.

Davis police cleared the double-homicide scene late Monday night following an extensive crime-scene investigation that began at about 9:20 p.m. Sunday, when one of Maupin’s daughters, having not heard from the couple all day, requested a welfare check at the residence that led to the discovery of their bodies.

Police disclosed early on there were signs of forced entry to the home, but continued to keep specifics about that and other aspects of the scene to themselves Tuesday in order to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.

While neighbors in the area spoke of a recent rash of residential break-ins, Doroshov said a crime scene like this one “would be very atypical for a home burglary.”

“While we’re open to all possibilities right now, we don’t have anything that says this is part of a burglary series,” he said. Although some burglars have been known to enter homes while the residents are inside — sometimes asleep, and sometimes not — they typically flee once they’ve been spotted.

“There’s been no violent confrontations so far,” Doroshov added. Still, the Police Department has deployed extra patrol officers throughout town “to enhance the safety of the community.”

Coroner’s officials believe the deaths likely occurred sometime Sunday, according to Mark Persons, spokesman for the Yolo County Sheriff-Coroner’s Department. The couple were last seen on Saturday, when Northup performed at the Davis Farmers Market with the Putah Creek Crawdads, the local folk band he helped form nearly 50 years ago.

But his uncharacteristic failure to show up for two scheduled performances on Sunday raised friends’ and relatives’ concerns, triggering that initial phone call to police.

As of Tuesday, the only indication that a tragedy had occurred at the Cowell Boulevard condo was a police-issued crime scene sticker sealing the front door. Near the sidewalk, mourners had placed several bouquets of flowers and taped a hand-drawn sign to a metal pole.

“In memory of Claudia and Chip; may they rest in peace,” the sign said.

Meanwhile, as the investigation continues, anyone with information is urged to call the Davis Police Department at 530-747-5400.

Black, the police chief, made a specific appeal to those whose homes and businesses in the area are equipped with surveillance cameras — or anyone who may have been filming or taking pictures in the neighborhood last weekend — to review their footage for anything even the slightest bit unusual.

“It may be meaningful to us,” Black said. “It may be the needle we’re looking for in that haystack.”

A 35-year-old Sacramento man who led Davis police on a 25-mile, high-speed pursuit from Davis to Fairfield on Monday morning after being observed near the murder scene has not been listed as a suspect in the case, Doroshov said.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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